By Frank Lesko, Coordinator of Justice and Peace
The readings today may contain both the simplest and the most difficult of all messages: God is one, and God alone is the source of all that is good. Along with that is the command to love our neighbors as ourselves.
This is at the core of our faith. It is the foundation of our morality. It is awesome and simple. However, anyone who has tried to put this faith into practice knows that there are no easy roads. We live in a concrete, messy world full of limitations. The Gospel calls us toward a God that is infinite in love and mercy. Yet, we pray for God’s kingdom to come on earth, just as it is in heaven.
Through the years, people of the Church have taken this awesome message and reflected on it. Over time, a moral code has developed out it. Afterwards, we try to take that moral code and apply it to real world situations. That may come in the form of government policies, laws and ethical standards. We then take those laws and policies and try to act them out in direct actions in our lives. There is a long and complex chain of decisions from this commandment to the actions we make every day.
Earlier this month at a Faith on Fire event, four dynamic parishioners witnessed to how their faith has led them in decisions about important social issues. Led by faith, using reason and informed by experience, they showed us a path through the darkness for the rest of us. Later that week, Fr. Kenneth Himes, OFM, gave us tools from the Church to help us navigate these tough decisions. There are no easy answers, and informed people of good will can sometimes differ. The good news is that there is a whole body of people in the Church also working hard on these same issues and we can lean on and learn from each other.
The Church also reminds us of the imperative to follow our conscience. A famous quote from Vatican II says: “Deep within their consciences men and women discover a law which they have not laid upon themselves and which they must obey. Its voice, ever calling them to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, tells them inwardly at the right moment: do this, shun that. For they have in their hearts a law inscribed by God. Their dignity rests in observing this law, and by it they will be judged.”
We are to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. What would life be like is we approached every day with this in mind? Loving God and loving neighbor in each moment we are alive. Would we make different decisions at work? At home with our families? In the voting booth?